To perform certain tasks well one needs the right tools. My husband informed me of this when to my starry gaze a bedroom remodel looked like Pinterest, Wayfair and HGTV all blended together in a delightful mix of color and texture. While I dreamed of the possibilities, he looked for a pickup truck to lug the likes of drywall, compound, lumber and nails.
“I need it,” he said, “to haul materials.”
If it gets the project done…I thought. “Ok, let’s get a truck.”
Old Red hauls like a beauty. She is old and productive like Sara, Abraham’s wife.
Thoughts of luxurious decor rapidly fade as ching-ching purchases of tile saws, buckets of compound, and insulation pile up. My imagined serene retreat is jaded with mountains of overflowing tools. They fill the denuded room where someday (if the Lord does not come first), a bed will stand.
There is a parallel within the Christian realm. We are big on tools.
Helps abound with tools for improving church, marriage, relationships, and faith. Like Niagara Falls, our lives are inundated with betterment.
So, that’s a good thing, right?
My husband and I have been in ministry 37 years, long enough to have done my share of chasing after various Christian keys, fads, trends and ideas. I’ve digested the latest expertise promising spiritual nirvana more than once.
Some of it has been helpful. Much of it has grown dim and forgotten, taking me back to square one.
Perhaps our lapses, our failures, our un-fulfilled-ness is not because we aren’t being taught enough, encouraged sufficiently, trained well or strategized par-excellence.
2 Timothy 3:16-17, (ESV)“All Scripture is breathed out by God…”
Maybe the structure of our Christian walk needs to shed some of the cushy flab of added flesh now and then so we can refocus on the bare bones of faith and its Biblical core.
Frankly, there is so much stuff out there, I can’t keep up.
“… profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…”
Biblical discernment comes through digging, learning and studying God’s Word. Understanding what God says, what He means, who He claims to be, and what He wants is not an overnight process. It is all too easy to use the plethora of Christian resources as acceptable shortcuts to Scripture while sidestepping the actual Book.
So when do Christian helps become Spiritual hindrances?
- When spiritual nourishment or intake comes principally from sources other than the Word itself.
- When I feel that in order to understand God’s Word I must have an expert mediator.
- When helps serve as a shortcut to intimacy with Christ.
- When helps are accepted as truth or authority simply because of the author’s word or reputation.
- When my dependency for growth, instruction or relationship is on man’s wisdom and not on Christ.
- When I am more enamored by helps and tools than by Christ Himself.
Peter assures us of what is already ours in 2 Peter 1:3. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence…” (ESV).
If within the pages of Scripture God has already given us all the tools we need for life and godliness, why do we live as if it is not true?
“I want to know Christ,” Paul said in Philippians 3:10. Without a smorgasbord of resources, his goal was simple, clear and straightforward.
Every once in a while the mess of tools and materials in the upstairs non-bedroom has to be removed so the carpenter has space to work. Without the clutter the structure is understandable, unconfused.
The opportunity to learn from others, gain from experience and insight is a privilege, something I utilize, and for which I am grateful. However, my responsibility as Jesus’ disciple is to examine human reasoning under the magnifying glass of God-breathed truth.
“…that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim. 3:16-17 (ESV)